Ensuring a teacher’s memory will live on

Monday, May 16, 2022

By Kim Fickett


HINTON — A former elementary teacher’s love for students and reading has been memorialized with a dedicated space in the library at Hinton Elementary School.

It was in a special ceremony on Monday, May 9, that family members and colleagues gathered to honor and remember former first grade teacher Jan Heimgartner.

“Jan loved teaching reading and building a love for reading,” said former colleague Jane Krehbiel. “As a tribute and in memory of Jan, the family created the TTNF (TaTa For Now) Jan Heimgartner Memorial Fund. The fund has provided a dedicated space to honor high-quality literature in the library including a special seating area for students to enjoy books in Jan’s memory.”

The idea, was born out of Heimgartner’s children and close colleagues — Krehbiel, Diane Culver, Amy Eaton and Laurie Bird, who wanted to carry on Heimgartner’s memory and share her love of reading.

“This idea really came from her great passion for reading and how much she cared about the kids at Hinton. We knew she would be very happy if the first graders got a book on their birthday,” Krehbiel shared of her dear friend.

“It was very heartwarming to see so many people come out from administrators to board members to colleagues to community members and friends. It brought a lot of closure to the family and to all of us knowing that her picture will be there hanging in the library as a constant remembrance of her.”

Pooh Bear Inspired

The space, which is nestled in the southeast corner of the library, is marked with a plaque commemorating Heimgartner, and offers various Caldecott books, a child sized chair and sofa, and is decorated with a wall cling and rug in her favorite theme — Winnie the Pooh.

“Her classroom was themed in Winnie the Pooh and Jan used so many of Pooh’s sayings. At the end of the each day, as the students lined up for dismissal, the last thing said was ‘TTFN’ (TaTa For Now), then the students would cheerfully respond TTFN,” Krehbiel shared of Heimgartner’s love for the fictional teddy bear character and cartoon.

In addition to the dedicated library space, the memorial fund also will gift each first grade student with a birthday book each year in Heimgartner’s memory.

“Children love to celebrate their birthday. Receiving a book that they can keep and treasure will be very meaningful to the children and make their day even more special, carry on Jan’s memory, and continue to build a life-long love of reading,” Krehbiel shared. 

Heimgartner joined the school district in 1986 as a Title One reading teacher before moving to the first grade where she stayed until her retirement in 2013.

“Jan was passionate about teaching, especially teaching reading,” Krehbiel said. “Always a learner herself, she continued with her master’s degree, and was always an eager participant in attending and presenting in conferences and seminars.”

To Help Support

To contribute to the fund, checks can be made payable to the U.S. Charitable Gift Fund and in the memo line note: TTFN Jan Heimgartner Memorial Fund and mail to, Ameriprise Financial, 6111 Whispering Creek Dr., Suite. A, Sioux City, IA 51106.

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